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Apple iPhone 6 Plus review: A super-sized phone delivers with a stellar display and long battery life

For phablet newbies this can take some getting used to. So, too, will remembering to take it out of that back pocket before sitting down. In the interest of fully comprehensive testing I sat on the 6 Plus numerous times and it registered nary a creak nor a crack. Still, I wouldn't advise doing so regularly, if only for your posture's sake.

Camera

The iPhone 6 Plus features an 8-megapixel rear shooter with optical image stabilization. In our testing we found the Plus consistently shot with a slower shutter speed than the iPhone 6, yet delivered images that were just as sharp. Longer exposures mean lower ISO and noticeably less image noise, plus better color.

The iPhone 6 Plus's camera also offers video stabilization, and though it's a digital effect, the results are quite impressive. I shot multiple videos free-handed, even while moving, and the footage is smooth, without any of the distortion you sometimes see from other digital stabilization technologies. The phone features real-time autofocus while filming, too, so you won't have to tap-tap-tap on the screen to follow the action. The phone captures video at 1080p, at either 60 or 30 frames per second, and slow-motion video at up to 240fps.

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The front-facing camera lacks stabilization capabilities but offers an f2.2 aperture, allowing more light to hit the sensor than on previous models, which translates to better selfies in dark conditions. Perfect for pub crawls.

Performance and battery life

The iPhone 6 Plus is very snappy and responsive in daily use. Both the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus are equipped with the A8 processor, though curiously the Geekbench benchmark reported it running slightly slower on the 6 Plus -- 1.35GHz versus 1.39GHz. Otherwise, benchmark results are very comparable between the two, and consistently 10 to 20 percent faster than the previous-generation iPhone.

The iPhone 6 Plus delivered a solid 13 hours and 16 minutes in our battery rundown test. It backed that up with impressive real-world performance, easily and repeatedly making it through a full day of heavy use -- featuring constant Web surfing, gaming, video streaming and GPS navigation -- and often lasting well into a second day before needing a charge.

In terms of processing power, the Apple iPhone Plus 6 delivers competent performance. Comparative benchmarks appear below; as always, they should be taken with a grain of salt.

3DMark Ice Storm -- Unlimited

LG G3
16,187
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
16,257
Apple iPhone 6
17,374
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
17,565
Samsung Galaxy S5
18,305

Note:

longer bars indicate better performance

Geekbench 3

Samsung Galaxy Note 3
684
2,100
LG G3
906
2,344
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
1,619
2,881
Apple iPhone 6
1,627
2,924
Samsung Galaxy S5
949
2,934

Legend:

Single-core
Multi-core

Note:

longer bars indicate better performance

Linpack multithread average

LG G3
611.111
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
730.159
Samsung Galaxy S5
869.416
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
1,358.20
Apple iPhone 6
1,378.20

Note:

(in MFLOPS -- longer bars indicate better performance)

SunSpider 1.0.2

LG G3
946.6
Samsung Galaxy Note 3
896.7
Samsung Galaxy S5
769.2
Apple iPhone 6 Plus
381.9
Apple iPhone 6
345.2

Note:

(in milliseconds -- shorter bars indicate better performance)
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Display

The iPhone 6 Plus's battery life is especially impressive in light of the phone's large, bright 5.5-inch IPS LCD. It's easily viewable in bright sunlight and isn't lacking for contrast, even if you're viewing at an odd angle. The 1,920x1,080-pixel resolution makes it ideal for watching 1080p content. When you come across the odd app that hasn't been optimized for such a big display, the phone's integrated scaler enlarges it to fit the screen. It works well enough, but may result in some blurry text and images.

We do wish the 6 Plus offered native support for iPad apps as it does for apps designed for smaller iPhones; you'd think that scaling apps from a 7.9-inch display down to 5.5 inches would be no more complicated than scaling up from 3.5 inches.

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Versus the Galaxy Note 4

And how does the iPhone 6 Plus fare specifically against its strongest competition on the Android side, the Samsung Galaxy Note 4? Overall, it's a very close call. In general, the iPhone 6 Plus is more attractive, feels better in your hand, and gets slightly better battery life. The Galaxy Note 4 offers a more durable construction and offers superior productivity and usability.

Those are the broad strokes -- and don't take OS preferences into account, which may be dealkillers for many, one way or the other. We offer a more comprehensive comparison in our in-depth feature about what it's like to live with these two phones.

Conclusion

The iPhone 6 Plus is not for everybody. Depending on your preference, size may be its chief asset or drawback; either way, it will likely be the paramount factor for those deciding between the 6 and 6 Plus. The large screen justifies the premium price, especially when it also comes with superior battery life and a terrific camera. The iPhone 6 Plus may not be the most aesthetically distinctive phablet on the market, nor the most feature-packed, but it is the most potent iPhone yet, and a serious contender in this segment of the smartphone market.

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